Melvin Jimenez and Edwin Uceta Make 2018 Loons Debut

Jimenez, from Santiago in the Dominican Republic, was signed as an international free agent by the Dodgers on December 23, 2015. During the 2016 season he played with the DSL Dodgers making 12 appearances, all of them starts. In six of those starts he pitched five innings and had an additional two appearances of six and four innings respectively. On the season, the right-handed Jimenez posted a 1.47 ERA along with a 0.96 WHIP while striking out 66 in 55 innings pitched and walking 18.

As a 16-year-old in the DSL he didn’t allow a home run in his 55 innings and induced ground balls at a 50 per cent rate.

The 6’0”/170-pound right-hander began the 2017 season with the Arizona League Dodgers making five relief appearances in which he logged 11 innings while posting a 1.64 ERA and a 0.64 WHIP. He gave up but three hits limiting opposing hitters to a .083 batting average. He struck out 18 and walked four.

In late June during the 2017 season, the then 17-year -old Jimenez was promoted to the Great Lakes Loons becoming the second youngest player to ever don a Loons uniform. Left-hander Julio Urias was the youngest player to play for the Loons when he debuted in Midland on May 26, 2013 as a 16-year-old.

In 28 innings pitched with the Loons Jimenez posted a 2.57 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP with 36 strikeouts and 12 walks. On the season, over 94 innings, he gave up but two home runs.

 

Perhaps the nervousness of a new season coupled with the 34 degree temperature with gusty winds affected Jimenez on Sunday. In his first inning pitched he gave up one run while struggling with control, walking two, recording a wild pitch and  giving up a lead off triple. He recovered with a scoreless second inning while picking up two strikeouts.

Unexpectedly he returned for the third inning and quickly struck out center fielder Chavez Young who had tripled to lead off the game. Jimenez was replaced by left-hander Austin Hamilton following a three-base error by Loons center fielder Brayan Morales. The young right-hander  left the game having thrown 53 pitches, 32 of them strikes.

The Loons went on to win their first game of the season, 11-6 over the Lansing Lugnuts , with a five-run fifth inning. Both left fielder Starling Heredia and center fielder Brayan Morales had three runs batted in as did 19-year-old catcher Ramon Rodriguez. The Loons had 12 hits, all singles, and stole five bases.

On the mound Austin Hamilton, James Carter and Aneurys Zabala followed Jimenez. Hamilton and Zabala both had scoreless outings while Carter gave up five runs in two innings.

In the nightcap of the double header right-hander Edwin Uceta started for the Loons. The just turned 20-year-old was signed by the Dodgers as an international free agent on July 2, 2016. In the Dominican Summer League in 2016 he posted a 1.72 ERA along with a 0.73 WHIP. In 31.1 innings he struck out 28 and walked but three.

Uceta, a 6’0”/155-pound native of Villa Los Almacigos  in the Dominican Republic, came stateside for the 2017 season starting for the Ogden Raptors of the rookie level Pioneer League. In 14 starts he pitched 56 innings striking out 62 and walking 14. He had a rather unsightly ERA of 6.59. However, the season was a bit of an eye opener for the Dodgers development team. He did have five short outings that went rather poorly but had seven for four, five or six innings in which he gave up a total of one earned run while striking out 37 and walking four. One of those was a perfect six innings .That no doubt helped him gain a spot with the Loons to start the 2018 season.

On Sunday evening he pitched four innings and made one mistake, a two-run home run by Lugnuts’ Kacy Clemens, son of Roger Clemens.

Beyond the one fat pitch, Uceta gave up no hits, walked one and struck out five. He threw 66 pitches, 40 for strikes.

Right-hander Andre Scrubb followed Uceta to the mound with the Loons leading 5-2. To that point offensively the Great Lakes squad were led by first baseman Nick Yarnell who was  a triple short of the cycle. Third baseman Marcus Chiu had hit his first home run of the season, right-fielder Romar Cuadrado had three hits while designated hitter Starling Heredia had two hits coupled with his first game hits giving him four for the day.

Scrubb pitched two innings of one-hit ball for the win while walking one. Left-hander Devin Hemmerich came on to close out the seventh inning of the twin bill and did so on 16 pitches, including two strikeouts, earning his first save of the season.

Nick Yarnell had a shot at the cycle in the top of the seventh inning but flew out on a hard hit ball to the opposite field.

The Following is From Always Compete:

Overall, a great day in the Dodgers organization. The only team that did not win was OKC, and that is because they did not play. The MLB team beat the Giants. The Tulsa Drillers beat the Midland Rockhounds (A’s) 12-7. The Drillers scored 12 runs on 13 hits and committed 2 errors. DJ Peters hit two HR’s, while Kyle Garlick had three hits. Angelo Mora continued his mastery over AA pitching with 2 more hits (2nd triple and 1st HR). Connor Joe also had a 2 hit game.
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Devin Smeltzer started and went 4 innings, allowing 4 runs (3 earned), 7 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, and 2 HR’s. Smeltzer was followed by Shea Spitzbarth (2.0 IP), Corey Copping (2.0 IP), and Karch Kowalczyk (1.0 IP), with each allowing a run, and Copping getting the win. In Copping’s 2.0 IP, he registered 5 K’s.
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RC Quakes beat the Visalia Rawhide (DBacks) 8-4. The Quakes scored 8 runs on 12 hits and committed 1 error. There were four Quakes with a pair of hits (Omar Estevez, Cristian Santana, Connor Wong, and Ibandel Isabel). Isabel and Logan Landon hit their first home runs of 2018. After the first weekend, Quakes’ batting averages include Estevez and Santana at .412, and Wong at .500. I know it is a very very very small sample size but Wong has an impressive slash line of .500/.571/1.167/1.728. In 14 PA, Wong has 2 doubles, 2 home runs, 4 RBI’s, and even a stolen base.
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Tony Gonsolin started and went 3.2 IP. He allowed 3 runs on 2 hits, 3 walks, and 4 strike outs. Parker Curry followed for 1.1 inning allowing the 4th run on a HR. Former (?) starting pitcher Leo Crawford went 3.0 innings allowing 1 hit and 2 walks, and 1 strike out. Stetson Allie finished the game allowing 2 hits, but also had 3 strikeouts.

This article has 23 Comments

  1. I am reposting this from the preceding post, so the entire Minor League Report can be together.
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    Overall, a great day in the Dodgers organization. The only team that did not win was OKC, and that is because they did not play. The MLB team beat the Giants. The Tulsa Drillers beat the Midland Rockhounds (A’s) 12-7. The Drillers scored 12 runs on 13 hits and committed 2 errors. DJ Peters hit two HR’s, while Kyle Garlick had three hits. Angelo Mora continued his mastery over AA pitching with 2 more hits (2nd triple and 1st HR). Connor Joe also had a 2 hit game.
    .
    Devin Smeltzer started and went 4 innings, allowing 4 runs (3 earned), 7 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, and 2 HR’s. Smeltzer was followed by Shea Spitzbarth (2.0 IP), Corey Copping (2.0 IP), and Karch Kowalczyk (1.0 IP), with each allowing a run, and Copping getting the win. In Copping’s 2.0 IP, he registered 5 K’s.
    .
    RC Quakes beat the Visalia Rawhide (DBacks) 8-4. The Quakes scored 8 runs on 12 hits and committed 1 error. There were four Quakes with a pair of hits (Omar Estevez, Cristian Santana, Connor Wong, and Ibandel Isabel). Isabel and Logan Landon hit their first home runs of 2018. After the first weekend, Quakes’ batting averages include Estevez and Santana at .412, and Wong at .500. I know it is a very very very small sample size but Wong has an impressive slash line of .500/.571/1.167/1.728. In 14 PA, Wong has 2 doubles, 2 home runs, 4 RBI’s, and even a stolen base.
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    Tony Gonsolin started and went 3.2 IP. He allowed 3 runs on 2 hits, 3 walks, and 4 strike outs. Parker Curry followed for 1.1 inning allowing the 4th run on a HR. Former (?) starting pitcher Leo Crawford went 3.0 innings allowing 1 hit and 2 walks, and 1 strike out. Stetson Allie finished the game allowing 2 hits, but also had 3 strikeouts.

    1. Corey Copping – Tulsa – had an interesting two innings. He struck out three batters swinging in the seventh inning. In the eighth he loaded the bases on a double, a single and a walk. He then allowed just one run on a weak infield out and struck out two more swinging.

      As AC mentioned, Angelo Mora is on an early tear. Mora finished 2-4 in the game and is now hitting .667 on the season with five extra-base hits and five runs batted in in four games.

      Aneurys Zabala looks like he might emerge as the Loons closer although they don’t adhere strictly to that as a role at the A level. He came to the Dodgers in the Chase De Jong trade with the Mariners. I thought Andre Scrubb might close games but his mastery of his pitches is still a work in progress.

      Great to see some Loon bats leave the bat rack yesterday.

  2. Not sure if OKC will get to play tomorrow or not. We got 2 to 4 inches of snow in Iowa today. With possibilities of more tomorrow. Although it is supposed to be in the 40’s so hopefully they can get it in. I’m anxious to see how Alvarez does in his first start for Tulsa.
    ~
    Good to see Kemp go with some pitches and serve the ball into RF today. Puig seemed to also be trying to go oppo which is good. Grandal still can’t hit with runners on base. I think the Dodgers are close to busting out offensively. It’s going to happen in Oaktown.
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    Kenley has looked better the last two outings. Although I’m afraid that he’s fallen in love with his slider a little too much. The team owes Clayton a big apology after 3 starts.
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    Andrew needs to make a call to Tampa. The easiest $100 I’ll make all year is the prop bet I made on the Rays winning less than 74 1/2. The Dodgers need to add Colome to the pen and include Font as part of a package to Tampa. They are going to be sellers anyways. Font, Stewart, and Stripling would all be in the Rays rotation. I’m not saying trade them all, but between the excess the Dodgers have in LF, some B prospects that would help the Rays, and someone like Font there is a deal to be had.

  3. Should the Dodgers start making some change?at this point, after only 9 games I think it’s way too early to make changes, the team just needs to start hitting and playing like they can.

  4. I was not able to prepare and post a complete write up of Saturday’s MiLB games, but I did not want Brock Stewart’s stellar performance go without comment. Brock pitched 5.2 innings allowing 0 runs on 2 singles and 2 walks, and compiling 6 strikeouts. I fully expect Manager Bill Haselman to get a call from Brandon Gomes as Stewart threw 82 pitches, certainly above that apparent 75 pitch limit. Brock threw 82 pitches, 55 for strikes, with 3 groundouts and 3 flyouts.
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    Bums, I was thinking of you on this one.
    .
    The Dodgers faced Luke Farrell in this game, and he basically matched Stewart pitch for pitch. He also went 5.2 IP but allowed 3 hits and threw 89 pitches. Maybe it is because he is John Farrell’s son, but I was sorry to see the Dodgers let him go, and I will be pulling for him. Another former Dodger (although for 3 minutes), Cory Mazzoni, pitched 1.1 perfect innings for the Cubs.

  5. One more MiLB note. I have not been shy voicing my displeasure of the Dodgers passing on Bo Bichette and drafting fellow high school SS Gavin Lux. Bichette who is 3.4 months younger than Lux is in AA and in 19 PA has a slash line of .333/.368/.389/.757. The Eastern League is a tough hitting league. Also with 19 PA , but in A+ League, Lux has a slash line of .063/.211/.063/.273. The California League is very hitter friendly. While I fully expect Lux to hit better than he currently is, I also expect Bichette to continue to hit, and would not be at all surprised to see Bichette get a September call from the Blue Jays, and fight for a starting spot next year, either at SS or 2B. How do you go wrong with a kid less than 2 years out of HS, who has a career slash line of .370/.425/.584/1.009. I feel the same way I do about Bichette as I did about Alex Bregman. Bregman is not a surprise to anybody, but every major league team passed on Bichette until Toronto drafted him in the 2nd round (2016).

    1. AC

      Do you think the fact that AJ Ellis was working out with Lux, and probably gave Lux a good word, is part of the reason the Dodgers picked, Lux?

      1. Perhaps the Dodgers were one of those four teams that Bichette turned down and they didn’t try again.
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        “Come draft night, Bichette had opportunities to be selected before the second round, but turned four separate teams down. With a commitment to Arizona State University in his back pocket, he nearly turned the Blue Jays down as well when they called to say they wanted to take him 66th and give him an at-slot signing bonus of $978,600. Bichette says he told Toronto, “Nah, I’m good,” and hung up the phone convinced he was going to ASU. His phone quickly went off again, this time with a near-panicked Bishoff on the other end of the line, trying to convince Bichette to budge. Again, Bichette said he was good. But with one minute remaining before their pick had to be finalized, the Blue Jays called back with a final offer of $1.1 million, which Bichette accepted. ”
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        Of course Lux was signed for something like $2.3M and both Will Smith and Jordan Sheffield were signed for about $1.8M before Bichette.

        1. If Bichette was taken right after Lux, then I’d be upset (although it’s still early). But a 2nd round pick means everyone passed on him at least once for multiple reasons. That happens every single year in baseball.

          Every team kicks themselves every year for every pick they could have made. Baseball draft is a crazy crapshoot. I’m sure Bellinger in the 4th round was way better than most 2nd round guys that year. I”m sure Walker Buehler at 23 is better than at least half the guys who went before him.

  6. For the life of me , I cannot understand why Andrew Toles is not getting the nod in LF. Has proven he can hit for an average ,he has speed on the base pads , he has defensive prowess in the outfield, and hits for power. Not to mention that he has an amazing back story. C’omon , give him the playing time. He deserves it. Kemp is a defensive liability. And Peterson is a SO king.

    1. The funny thing is last year Joc wasn’t the strike out king that we all think of him to be. He made more contact but lost his power. Dodgers Digest recently had a piece on this. Less K’s and more groundouts into the shift.

    2. To me it’s pretty simple. It boils down to this:

      1. The Dodgers owe Matt Kemp about $53 million dollars over the next two years;
      2. Matt Kemp acts like he is serious (showed up 40 pounds lighter, great shape, great attitude);
      3. The Dodgers need a RH Power bad; and
      4. Matt Kemp has shown he can hit 30-40 HR, hit .300 and drive in 100 runs.

      I think Andrew Toles has a bright future in LA and he is one of my favorite players, but the Dodgers HAVE to see if they can catch lightening in a bottle with Kemp.

      Chris Taylor is the Dodgers CF and should not EVER be considered to be moved to 2B or SS! Maybe he can do a good job at SS or 2B, but right about now, Chris Taylor is developing into and ELITE CF. That’s right ELITE! He is becoming one of the top CF in the league. At AT & T Park yesterday, I had a great view of Taylor and he made at least two plays in the gaps in LCF and RFC on balls that would have been doubles or triples, but he turned them into outs. With anyone else in CF, the Dodgers lose that game.

      My point right there is that Toles cannot play CF – Taylor should stay there PERIOD! Puig is in RF and not likely going anywhere as the Dodgers RH power. That leaves LF for Toles andf since he really needs to play everyday, after missing a year, the only place he can do that is OKC. Matt Kemp is much improved in LF and while not a Gold Glover, he is OK. Yes, Toles is better – actually, Verdugo may be the best LF’er on the team.

      I like Toles a lot, but we all need to realize that he could be traded… as could Kemp, Diaz and others. I think Verdugo is the real deal.

      1. The only way Kemp hits .300 is as a platoon player. If anyone else is in CF the Dodgers lose if the offense has the same production. That’s the bid if in the equation. Kemp will not play as much as his fans would like when he has to cover big outfields like SF and Colorado.

        1. Big if. I make so many mistakes when I try posting from my phone. I’ve hit the bifocal age and it blows.

          1. Hawk – I think the keys on my keyboard play musical chairs. They never seem to be in the same place. of course my progressive lenses don’t help.

          2. I put my contact in to see and then I can’t read anything small now. It’s driving me crazy. Fortunately, it doesn’t affect my golf game. I’m still as mediocre as ever.

  7. Hawkeye,

    What I did was have computer glasses made. What they are is my prescription plus to magnification needed. It would great for reading or working on the computer.

    1. I keep some cheaters near my computer. It’s when I’m out an about in a restaurant reading a menu or some stuff on the cell phone and I forget them is when I have some issues. My prescription didn’t change for years not it’s changing constantly. Sucks getting old.

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